A Giant Animal movie with a difference: Tarantula
Why is it different?
Tarantula isn’t the first giant monster to rent a room in the Kurtodrome Vault, but it’s special for a lot of reasons. We’ve talked about the 50s sci-fi genre before and how many of those films contained giant monsters and usually sucked. Tarantula is, take or leave a few poorer scenes, a pretty good film directed by Jack Arnold, director of other sci-fi classics such as Creature of the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Tarantula has often been likened to Them!, the giant ant movie made only one year earlier, but Jack Arnold denies Them! was an influence. And not just because here we have one spider doesn’t exactly equal several giant ants.
Most sci-fi movies from the fifties had giant animals as a result of nuclear tests. In many movies the killer creatures were nothing more but an allegory: if you bear in mind that these movies were made in the McCarthy era, it’s not difficult to see who the evil animals (or aliens) attacking good honest Americans were supposed to depict. Yes, kids, if we can get those Martians off our soil, we can sure handle the evil commies.
Tarantula’s tarantula isn’t gigantic because of a nuclear test going haywire, nor is the spider a KGB spy. The person we’ll have to blame for this monster, is a professor who wanted to make sure your children’s children would have something to eat. After all, the more people will walk on this planet, the less food there’ll be per person or something along those lines.
The solution is simple: make sure the animals grow in size. Now the professor’s experiments were paying off as you can see from this spycam footage:
Now I can understand why he wanted to create bigger rabbits, but why the heck a giant tarantula? You can just guess what this means: it means that the professor’s assistant who tried some of the professor’s potion will be angry because on human the stuff only has one effect (the face deforms) and he’ll pick a fight with the professor. In this fight the safety glass of the tarantula’s cage will break and the beast will escape, killing lots of people and animals.
What do you mean: you couldn’t guess that? Oh well, that’s what happens and then only one thing needs to be done: the tarantula must be destroyed.
Anything else good?
Yes, the acting is not bad and the special effects deserve some praise: a few scenes aside, the effects are quite believable.
Nearly fifty years later the film is bound to lose some of its credibility, but overall is nothing to be ashamed for. And as the sole non-nuclear giant animal from the fifties it even gets a special place in the vault. Sure, you’ll never have time to see all the masterpieces of the world, but rest assured, there are a lot of worse things to do than renting Tarantula.